As the lights shutter in the cramped Michigan Theater on July 30, the roaring chatter of the audience shifts into a hushed silence, a product of anticipation and the promise of a performance to remember.
One of the things that struck me as I took my seat on the main floor was the diversity of Stirling’s fan base. To our right, teenagers; behind us, a family; two rows ahead, an elderly couple. From the front row, frat boys threw up their hands in the air to the rhythm of the music as families whispered to their children, all there for one purpose and one alone: to watch Lindsey Stirling perform live. Don’t get me wrong, there are many musical groups that draw a diverse fan base. However, it’s what composes Stirling’s music that entices fans of all ages. Mixing her training in classical violin and her enthusiasm for electronica, Stirling mixes the melody of a symphonic performance with the ambiance of a rock concert. Let me be the first (of many) to say that she does, indeed, rock.
Lindsey Stirling first came to the American spotlight during the fifth season of “America’s Got Talent,” coupling an electronic violin with a mix of ballet and hip-hop dance moves. What made Lindsey Stirling so popular at the time was her ability to carry out both a self-composed violin number while dancing at speeds incomparable to musicians before her. As a composer, classically trained violinist and dancer, Stirling captures the attention of her viewers with cinematographic videos that keep her viewers coming back for more. Yet, for all of her talent, Stirling was voted off of “America’s Got Talent” in the quarterfinals — a decision that she credits the success of her career. Rather than give up on her dreams, Stirling worked her way to YouTube stardom, where her videos have continuously drawn millions of viewers over the past few years. Evident from her sensational performances, Lindsey Stirling shows passion and pleasure in her work, both on and off the stage.
From the shadows, the silhouette of a violinist appears against pulsing and colorful lights. As things became clearer, the violinist appears in a blue sequined tutu and a pair of Chuck Taylors. This is not a classical concert — this is Lindsey Stirling. After a nine-month break from live performances, Stirling comes back to the stage without missing a beat. From the first notes of the 90-minute concert, Stirling’s music is powerfully addictive. Hitting every note flawlessly, she gracefully navigates the stage in solid movements that match those of her backup dancers. How she manages to play a violin and keep her erratic pace is beyond me, but it’s mesmerizing.
As the show progressed through visual effects and dance numbers alike, the crowd never lost its beat with Stirling, who kept us pacified through breaks by stories of love, loss and laughter. The audience roared with mirth when Stirling revealed her two attempts at Disney princess stardom, only to be offered the role of Winnie the Pooh instead, and her comeback as a musician for the upcoming Disney film “Pete’s Dragon.” Solemn crowd members held up heart-shaped hands as she gave a grief-stricken speech about loss and the hope that lies ahead, valiantly cheering her on as she threw herself into the performance of “Something Wild,” the most popular song on her upcoming album Brave Enough. Finishing her performance with “Roundtable Rival,” a duel of fast fingers between a violin and electric guitar, we jumped to our feet to cheer Lindsey on. Hardly believing that it was over, Stirling jumped back onto the stage for an encore performance of her “Phantom of the Opera” melody, as fans swayed to the soft tunes of “Think of Me” and jammed out to her rendition of “Angel of Music,” staying on their feet. Even after Stirling and her accompanying musicians took their leave from the stage, the applause continued.